Back in October I mentioned that JetBlue was having some AMAZINGLY LOW fares. One of the routes was from Seattle to Long Beach for $62 round trip.
Hello…$62 round trip is crazy low my friends. So, what does one do when they don’t have a ton of time for vacation, but they still want to take advantage of this amazing deal? They go to Disneyland for a day!! My daughter and I flew into Long Beach at 9:30 am, went to Disneyland for the day and then flew home at 4:30 pm the next day. Here are some tips we found that worked well for us since we only had one day in the parks. We actually spent time at both Disneyland and California Adventure and we didn’t feel like we missed out on anything. We had a fabulous time and we are so glad we took this quick jaunt for a fun mother/daughter day.
Here are the things we did before we left and while we were at the Parks to make the most of our one-day Park Hopper.
Choose to Park Hop (or Not) – If you are a first timer, I just recommend buying a one-day park ticket and sticking to one park. If you are a regular, go for the Park Hopper so you can take advantage of all your favorite attractions. If you aren’t certain you will have time to do both parks, you can buy a one-day park ticket and upgrade to a Park Hopper anytime before the parks close.
Buy Tickets Online – Save time by buying your park tickets ahead of time. This will save you from having to spend time in the ticket line and then waiting again in the line to get into the park. With your tickets you can just go straight to the gate. If you plan to buy tickets for 2 days or more, I highly recommend using Get Away Today for your Disneyland tickets. I recommend checking out the package deals at Get Away Today, they can’t be beat! We have used them 7 times now and have always been pleased with the service.
Arrive early – If you only have one day in the parks your best bet will be to get there before the park opens. If you are flying in the same day you plan to attend the parks I recommend flying into Long Beach (LGB) or John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA), both of these airports are close to Disneyland and they are much smaller, which makes getting out of the airport quicker and easier than LAX. Our plane landed at Long Beach at 9:30 and we were in the park by 10:15 (that time included picking up a rental car and a stop at our hotel).
Grab a Park Guide – As soon as you enter the parks you will want to make sure you grab a park guide. This will help you know when shows and character meet and greets are happening. You can also download the Disneyland Mobile app before you go and get all the information via the app.
Take Advantage of the FASTPASS System – This is probably a no brainer, but pay close attention to the time on your FASTPASS tickets so you will know when you can get another one. Better yet, get MAXPASS, for $10 per person/per day you can book all your FASTPASS options via your phone. You will save time from having to go to each FASTPASS distribution location.
Catch the Popular Rides first – You will want to catch the popular rides that don’t have Fast Passes first. In California Adventure we always head straight for Toy Story Midway Mania (many people head for Radiator Springs Racers, but we always choose the single rider line for this ride and it goes fast). At Disneyland, you will want to head straight for Peter Pan or catch a ride on Hyperspace Mountain (Hyperspace Mountain does have Fast Passes, but we love to go on this one multiple times).
Plan your meals – Know ahead of time where you want to eat and make your reservations accordingly. Before our trip we made plans to have the Monte Cristo and Pommes Frites at Cafe Orleans for lunch and dinner at Flo’s V8 Cafe. Deciding where we were going to eat saved us time. If you are really pressed for time, I would just go with quick service meals. Check out our recommendations for great places to eat lunch and breakfast.
Use Mobile Food & Beverage Ordering – Disneyland now offers mobile food and beverage ordering via the Disneyland app. No more waiting in line to get your food! You can use mobile food order at the following Disneyland locations: Bengal Barbecue, Galactic Grill, Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor, Hungry Bear Restaurant, Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe and Red Rose Taverne. At California Adventure you can order food at Award Wieners, Clarabelle’s Hand Scooped Ice Cream, Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill, Corn Dog Castle, Flo’s V8 Cafe, Lucky Fortune Cookery, Pacific Wharf Café, Paradise Garden Grill or Smokejumpers Grill
Share meals – With only one day in the park the amount of Disney treats and snacks you can have will be limited. When we have a 3 day trip I can easily fit in all my favorite Disney snacks, but with only one day it’s a little more difficult. My daughter and I shared our lunch and dinner so we would have more room for our favorite Disney snacks throughout the day. We even shared some of the snacks too!
Eat your favorite snacks (and take some home) – We made sure not to miss our favorite snacks like Dole Whip and the Hand Dipped Ice Cream Bars at Clarabelle’s Hand Scooped Ice Cream. We chose several snacks that were easy to take home with us to save for the next day like Mickey Caramel Apples and Matterhorn Macaroons.
Tip: The Dole Whip is a must on ANY Disney trip, to save time, get in line on the other side where you wait for the Tiki Room. Both the line in the front and the back are open to everyone and the one in the back should save you a ton of time.
Schedule Down Time – A whole day in the park can wear you out, make sure to schedule some down time by taking in a show (or a sit down meal). We got to relax later in the day while we watched the new Frozen – Live at the Hyperion. Other show options are Mickey and the Magical Map, Fantasy Faire and more.
Save shows for later in the day – The parks get busier in the afternoon. Save your show watching for the late afternoon when the ride lines are the longest.
Use Single Rider Lines – If all the members in your party are old enough (kids have to be at least 7) take advantage of the single rider lines. In most cases you will get on the ride much quicker. I highly recommend the single rider line for Radiator Spring Racers (there is a chance you may end up in the same car, with one in the front and one in the back, or you may even get to race each other). Another great ride for single riders is Indiana Jones (you have to request the single rider pass for this one and you will actually enter the ride through the exit).
Save popular rides you missed for late at night – If there are popular rides you couldn’t ride because the lines were too long during the day, try them again at night. Many lines are shorter at night, especially if there is a parade, fireworks show or World of Color going on. Skip the parade to take advantage of the lower lines (sometimes their are 2 parade times, so you catch the later one). Plus, some rides are so much fun at night. We love to ride Thunder Mountain Railroad at night (especially when the fireworks are going off) and Radiator Springs Racers has a totally different feel when it’s dark. So much fun!
Stay til closing time – You will get the most for your money if you stay until the park closes. Hopefully you can visit the parks when they are open late. On the day we visited, California Adventure was open til 10 pm and Disneyland was open until midnight. The late closing time gave us plenty of time to tour the parks. If you do visit a park on a day they aren’t open late, the good news is they will probably be less crowded.
Get in line for a ride right up until closing time – If you get in line for a ride before closing time you will still get to ride it. If the park closes at 11pm, you have until 10:59 pm to get in line for one last ride.
Save your shopping for the end of the day – The shops on main street will stay open up to an hour past closing time. You can also shop at the World of Disney in Downtown Disney which will typically stay open 2 hours past park closing time.
While 3 or more days is ideal for a Disneyland vacation, I can vouch for the fact that you can still have a magical time and fit a ton of fun into one day. Have you ever done Disneyland in a day? I love to hear you tips!
I was provided with (2) one-day Park Hoppers to help facilitate this post. My opinions and love for Disney are honest and true.
Check out all of my other Disney posts that are filled with money saving tips:
- Check out our Ultimate Guide to Disneyland Snacks
- Food recommendations and guide for the Get Your Ears on Celebration
- Your complete guide to Pixar Pier
- I share honest reviews of all the hotels we’ve used near Disneyland
- 10 of the BEST places to eat breakfast at Disneyland
- 10 of the BEST places to each lunch at Disneyland
- Another great way to save on Disneyland package deals is through Costco Travel